A reference both to Rochdale and the amazing statistic that we got a point over the weekend…

That was of course all it was, and nothing more. Thankfully, you can always rely on a haiku from Tudor if all else fails:

Taylor in defence…
Ardley’s fear of conceding –
Infecting whole team.

At least we can stop pretending that we’re not horseshit, by making our entrance into the bottom four.

And I think this weekend became a bit of a turning point for many. I read NA’s comments before writing this, and the universal reaction to it was pretty telling.

I believe the expression is “tone deaf”.

If I (and others) didn’t know better, I would say they came from a manager of a team comfortably in mid-table, who’s just simply going through a lean spell, with otherwise potent strikers simply not got their scoring boots on at the moment.

Maybe Ardley genuinely believes he’s in charge of such a team? Or maybe he knows, deep down, that he has utterly fucked up with poor transfer dealings and an even poorer adherence to a failed formation.

There’s no reason for playing Lyle Taylor out wide except for dogmatic reasons. The chants from the fans to “Brimful of Asha” about this very subject clearly got heard, and it feels very similar to the “4-4-2” chants at Crawley.

My guess here (and it’s only a guess) is that NA has been given October to give some resemblance of turning it around. I believe that for two reasons – firstly, like TB before him, the club is a bit too emotionally attached to him, which I think is the biggest weakness we have at AFCW.

Not just to NA specifically, but the notion that anything that doesn’t have Wimbledon FC connections is akin to placing a pork chop in a mosque.

Secondly, at least in terms of getting reinforcements in, there isn’t a lot any other manager can do right now. Of course, that isn’t nearly the whole story of our current plight, and I think our problems are deeper (and have been even before Franchise in March), but we’ll be relying on Darius up front for a little while yet.

But I expect NA to have been given a massive rocket up his arse by the club. I expect – not hope – that he’s been put under serious pressure now. And I expect – not hope – that he’s been told he’s not unsackable after all.

Maybe he wasn’t aiming his post-match comments to the fans, but to the board instead? It would explain a lot if so.

I note the party line this morning is that we’re only losing by one or two goals, rather than the 3 or 4 that ultimately scuppered TB. Or as somebody else put it, we can get relegated only conceding 40 goals instead of 80.

I also note that people are saying all we just need are one or two goals and we’ll be fine. Except the problem is when we do achieve that, we revert to awful type in the next game(s) very quickly.

If that was the case, we would have kicked on after Doncaster and especially after Blackburn. It didn’t happen. And it’s not likely to again either.

If anything, I think we saw the first real cracks over this weekend, especially when we need to be ultra-pragmatic now and we end up with the ideological approach instead.

With this in mind, I wonder what the players really think at the moment. Ignore what they say to media, the OS or on social media – they’re trained to say that, and it’s very rare they drop their guard.

I note a fair few people after Saturday were suggesting that our heads dropped a bit in the second half instead. That I don’t know, but I definitely know Appiah was doing WDON commentary and he said at the end that it was a bit tame. Make of that what you care to.

It can’t be easy for them at the moment. They’re struggling on the field, a lot of them have played in better setups beforehand, and they’re being shoehorned into a system that doesn’t work and they don’t appear comfortable in.

I’ve seen us play against Franchise, Fleetwood, Blackpool and Gills this season, and the only time I’ve walked away thinking we gave it a damn good go was Gillingham. A game where I thought we genuinely turned the corner.

The others? They all had a depressingly familiar pattern of us going behind, and the players acting as if they knew they’ll never get back into the game. I’m in no doubt that if Rochdale had gone ahead on Saturday, it would be exactly the same story.

But then, I’m reliably informed that the shackles were removed for Gills and Blackburn, and came back on again afterwards…

The players do have to turn up for games, at least officially. The same restriction doesn’t apply to supporters, and the crowds dropping also tell its own sorry tale.

Let’s not sugar-coat this – people are bored with negative, unadventurous, fearful, let’s-not-dare-to-win-a-game crap that has been served up since 2016/17 and is failing miserably to boot. KM isn’t the nicest place to watch games anyway, but you can’t blame punters for skipping games there now.

Loyalty only goes so far, even (or especially) at AFCW. There’s only so many times you can put a load of peanuts in a turd and keep calling it a Lion Bar.

One suspects that might be the tipping point as far as the club itself goes – it relies on supporters generosity, probably too much, and you simply cannot drive away one of your main sources of income.

Be honest – right now, you go to games mainly to meet your mates and get some enjoyment being in their company. If you and they decide to spend Saturdays in a pub instead, that’s another pint of beer the club doesn’t sell.

You still win, because your social life is still intact, and you don’t waste it looking at more one-star entertainment. The club loses more income, but can you say they deserve the custom at the moment?

It’s not all a one-way street, where AFCW itself doesn’t give back. You have to make people want to be there, and right now they’re finding other things to do on a weekend.

And no, I don’t blame them.

Still, we are where we are. We’ve still got three months before things can properly be altered, and that is a l–o–n–g time to keep doing the same thing over and over again.

One thing is clear though – life may well start to get interesting…

41 thoughts to “Pioneering”

    1. Spot on Brizie.

      If something changed that allowed us to perform the way we did at Blackburn (not there) then what was it that changed that made it stop?

      I cannot believe it was the players who thought that was it for now, surely?

      No it was a game at home with a prescribed different way to play against ‘them.’

      I cannot fault the effort on Saturday and in truth the defence (admittedly against limited opposition) looked more secure than in the past; perhaps that has finally been sorted for now.

      But if midfield did try to push on like they did on Saturday the front few never had the confidence that the ball would still be delivered to give them a chance and in the end we only manufactured a few half chances.

      10 games in NA has tried his new way and whatever the reason – really it does not matter – it is not working to provide us with the goals we need. He needs to change it.

      The $64 million question is has he the balls to man up and admit firstly he may have been wrong and then be humble enough to accept that.

      If so I will be the first to applaud.

      If not then I think he is being managerially obstinate and his position must be considered

  1. I was meeting up with old mates for our annual piss-up this weekend. One supports Leeds & one Qpr. Both have been down to watch us in previous seasons but I didn’t even suggest it Saturday & as soon as I saw the starting line up I knew I’d made the right choice. I think we’d all like NA to turn it around but if he stubbornly refuses to employ his limited resources with a view to winning a game what’s the point?

  2. We just want to watch some football!
    NB the AFCW “one-way street” has been in operation for at least 5 years too long now. The Club have leaned far too heavily on fans’ guilt-tripping to give, time and money and effort – especially with the income streams of a League 1 club – and that ‘donation fatigue’ is coming home to roost, and in play, on every little roadbump these days.
    Whether that has any large contributory factor with NA getting less time to turn things around or not, I don’t know: however, if we do go down, I’m sure the collection plate will be out in force once again.

  3. The irony is there’s enough talent in the squad not to have to play hoofy woofy up to Darius (or AN Other, midget or not). But we’re not playing all our best players in their best positions, and letting them play with passion. Gillingham was a rare blip of enjoyable, exciting football to watch. If the shackles did come back on after Gillingham/Blackpool, not only is it a great shame for us fans and the team, it’s also blindingly obvious they need to come off again now.

    1. Why do you think the Gillingham performance was so wonderful?? We drew at home to a team below us in the league playing half the game with 10 men! Surely that was the result to set alarm bells ringing?

  4. In reference to the brilliant haiku

    Five in seventeen, the horror
    Whats a goal Dad?
    Think I love Football, don’t I?

  5. Not only is AFCW too loyal to NA – but NA is also too loyal to a number of players who should not be there next year, and probably not this year.

    I know NA says the players give their all – but if that is all they can give it is not enough, and some players need to move on – GF/PR/BF.

    What is the point of Lyle Taylor playing on the wing when we don’t have a target man ? I thought it was pretty stupid last season when we had Tom Elliot believing that LT should be playing next to him, but this season, with no target man, it is beyond a joke.

  6. Sign players to get the ball down and play. Spend next 2 months hoofing it up to a midget whilst our only goal threat has to run up and down the wing.

    Bloody fool.

    That thudding you hear is Ardley thwacking his head off the managerial glass ceiling.
    It’s bloody painful for all of us Erik.
    If you want to keep him then shake up the backroom and think outside the box for signing a striker.

  7. I said the other week (I believe after Gillingham) I was still behind Ardley until circumstances change i.e. we go from a generally poor side still able to grind out the odd result to losing week in, week out with no apparent escape route. Losing to the franchise and seeing zero reaction in the subsequent games appears to be that watershed moment, and I feel it could be the same for many others. The second lowest scorers in the football league and firmly in the relegation picture. I would give Neal two games. If we lose the next two it is a crisis and he will have to be replaced to avoid capitulation, 24th and a return to League 2. Let’s remember, if we’re cut adrift (in a similar way to Coventry last season) come January 1st, sorting out the summer’s recruitment shortcomings becomes nigh on impossible.

  8. Darius will be up front from the start and things will get a lot better and the goals will come we will be fine this season keep the faith

  9. Tbh I wasn’t expecting us to score on sat, and after the obvious first 5 minute flurry, I knew we wouldn’t. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that is now 5 goals in the last 17, going back into last season. Cos I missed Donny, I’ve seen us score 2 at KM since the middle of March.
    Why does NA play 2 defensive midfielders every week. Soares just ambles through games, as he’s done at every club he’s been at, Trotters only marginally better, and jury’s out on Abdou. If the goals aren’t gonna come from midfield, then your looking at crosses from the wonderful Andy Barcham, and the out of position Lyle into the box, but we have no one to get on the end of them.
    Not rocket science, but no goals from midfield, and no goals from crosses equals no fucking goals.
    Play one of the deadly defensive diggers ( they are all interchangeable ), and play Forrester and Deano to try and create something, anything. Forrester looks fit to me, and if not, what is the point. Also, playing a centre half as a striker is pretty embarrassing. Come on, this is starting to get shit.

  10. People might like to think that things are going to get interesting or change is upon us, personally I doubt it. My guess is the board are going to back Neal for the season and won’t even have discussed a contingency plan.

  11. Rob – I don’t think I’d want a board who panic in the same way some of our fans do. We have no god-given right not be be involved at the bottom end of the table, we are currently occupying a league place roughly in line with our budget.

    If we are in for a relegation scrap – which shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone in our second season of league 1 football – Neal has experience with us of beating the drop. I’m not denying his contribution to the increasing probability we face a relegation battle, he has made mistakes in his recruitment and in our playing style but there is plenty of time to turn things around.

    As I’ve said in my reports I’d like to us go back to a more Wimbledon-like squad and style, if Neal wants to go in another direction maybe a discussion about the future should take place at the end of the season.

    1. Over the last 5 years, most of the football has been turgid. In 2013 Ardley had us 20 minutes from losing our FL place. We trod water for a few years, things turned absolute wank again, Ardley was put in his place, we had a rosy 4 months and up we went. We’ve had the ying and yang.
      Now had 8 months of rubbish again, just limping from fixture to fixture, 2 poor transfer windows (I think we have some good players: we have a set up that has no idea how to implement more football than hoof) and a manager that for the umpteenth time has gone stubborn and dug himself a hole.
      Be honest, we all knew that Appiah would break down, that we needed a league 1 fullback (not kennedy) as we gave an injury prone left back a long contract, that Robo just about got through the 2nd half of last season (I really wouldn’t be an adverse to him being “somewhere” in a new set up) and that Mad Barry at 33 was pretty much done as a L1 fullback, for those of us that had seen him Trotter wtf. There was some optimism finally getting a grown up keeper, Barcham (although how he can no longer last games is farcical), Hartigan (who just as Ardley did with Egan and all before – give him 4/5 games then stand him down),2 decent C/H’s, Cody Mcdonald (yes he is a decent player that we have made look really poor) and the left field signing of Forrester…..who having been here long enough to get 100% fit, can’t get a proper run out. And last but not least…our most effective player hs the mojo kicked out of him and shoved wide in a 4/3/3 where he has to run backward all the time because of what he has to cover: and still to pigheaded to play him at centre forward but play a defender up top instead!…. scoring a handful of goals in half a season of football…that is not just a bit of a bad run.
      All in all that is shocking – and mostly self inflicted.

      Focker out.

      1. I have to agree with everything you have said here. Mr Ardley is being obstinate for the sake of it now and that will lead to L2 football. That will be a real shame because it’s been great getting to where we are.

      2. Great post.

        Ardley’s limitations on all fronts have been brutally exposed over the past year.

        But what has disappointed me most is he doesn’t learn from his mistakes.

        Maybe it’s arrogance, maybe it’s a lack of intelligence, but I’ve lost faith in him as the man to take us forward. 16th in League 1 is possibly the best he can do.

        He may keep us up but I really hope Ardley is not painted as a hero for doing so. He’s not a hero, and a close shave would be failure, not success

  12. Long and Barcham have been superb this season.
    Parrett for one reason or another, unbeknown to most, never gets a decent run in the team.

    Barcham is the only player creating any chances on a consistent basis.

    As a consequence of our predictable game plan is often marked out of the game as a result.

    Football boring, enjoyment value nil.

    As well as being in the results business this is supposed to be an in entertainment business.

    Kaja although a relative youngster is the only wide right player in the squad. Never gets a start and only gets at best a 15 minute cameo appearance.

    We were told that Soares’s poor form was down to not having done a pre season with us

    Form has continued into this season. Have seen nothing positive from him since he came to the club.

    As a previous comment, appears to just jog about
    and go through the motions. He shows no fight or passion.

    Forrester and Barcham should both start with Parrott and Trotter as the holding player.

    Taylor and Darius to start.

    Neal needs to just go for it.

    If not he will end up playing in front of the “Billy no mates” contingent.

  13. Hi all,

    Frankly speaking, I really have no idea on how NA is going to help the club to get back to winning ways. Darius is a defender. I do not see the point of him playing as the striker. Will NA reap rewards by adopting such approach? I seriously doubt so. To be honest, we do not have the ideal replacement for NA in the event if he is sacked. Since he has guided the club to League One, it seems to be right for him to continue in his role this season. If the club gets relegated this season, so be it. I suppose that this is the only way for the club to progress through relegation.

    I believe that the club management has the necessary contingency plans in place in the event if relegation occurs this season. The transfer revenue which the club generated through the players sales in the summer will be handy in balancing the budget for the club especially in the case of relegation.

    I can see that the club management is keeping faith in NA despite being in the relegation zone. I see this as a plus point for the club which will go on long time basis especially in the current crunch time of crisis. The record speaks for itself.

    The club only have six managers from 13 June 2002 till to date. It is equivalent to 30 months or 2.5 years plus per manager. This is a significant milestone for the club.


  14. The Rochdale game is when the little boy in the crowd said ‘The Emperor is wearing no clothes’.

    Crowds are dropping because people are bored of watching the same old long ball shit with different players

    1. No doubt our lack of goals is deeply concerning. However Ardley should have October to get us up the table. How can we be sure the next person will be any better? We could be in deeper shit by Christmas with a manager who had inherited a squad they aren’t accountable for. By all accounts the squad is reasonably sound for the funds we have available. Let’s not forget some of the quality that’s been brought in including our keeper who is outstanding . Many are critical of Ardley for not signing a target man. Would we honestly want any old target man? Remember all the noise last season about Barnett? We couldn’t wait to get rid of him for a reason.

  15. OK. I thought of this earlier but other thoughts made me forget it.

    It ain’t working at present.

    How about being really boring and playing people where they are meant to play?

    So that’s LTB at 9 and Cody off him.

    Barcham on the left; wasn’t that v quick Forester goal scored for Rangers him coming in from the right?

    If BF is surplus to requirements GF at right back.

    Till sicknote Meades is back CK at left back.

    Current Will & Deji in the middle.

    Midfield HAS to include Parrett then chose 2 from 3.

    That’s basically 4 4 2 I suppose but if you change to a back 3 then put Charles in there and move/drop GF and CK accordingly or integrate into middle 5.

    At the end of the day just play leftside players on the left, right sided on the right.


    We might all be surprised.

    If it doesn’t work we’ve tried.

    And relax …..

  16. Totally agree with Jampot’s formation/starting XI above. It sounds simple enough but I worry that NA is too stubborn to change what he believes is the right system for us! Darius on the bench at the mo for me as a back up CB, only because it would be very harsh to drop Will or Deji. I just hope we don’t see him start up top.
    Oh well, could be worse, could be on a bad run of form!

  17. It sounds simple because it is simple. NA has nothing to lose now except face but sadly that is why he’ll keep playing the wrong players in the wrong formation. Everyone who’s commented here can see it, everyone on WUP can see it, the Chemflow End can see it but the only man who can’t or won’t see it is the only one who can change it.

  18. Will be interesting to note the editors comments/next update, with his ear to the ground…

    One other thought about the squad. Ardley’s mistrust of youth: Antwi in last season, given a contract and now can’t get a sniff off the bench and Ardley would rather play a centre half up top. Egan, game time last season, looked promising: now can’t get a sniff of the squad. Hartigan, probably our most consistent player behind Long and possibly Barcham-dropped. Surely with Ardley having a years notice that this transfer window would be lock down for 5 months, if he continued to have such mistrust of youth/really doesn’t rate them (and after 5 years at the helm and us being extolled to benefits of an ex academy manager who would kick the academy into shape), why the lack of detail in balancing the squad this summer? Only 3 forwards, (one from the Andy Carroll school of body management) for 3 forward positions in the beloved 4-3-3. We seem to of gone back to early 2013 and TB’s square peg/round hole selection.

  19. “Be careful of what you wish for”, “he’ll turn it around”, “give him another month”, “let’s see how it goes until Christmas” etc. etc. We heard all these phrases repeated constantly by “believers” once before – when was it? Oh yes, it was around the time that TB was struggling. For all TB’s mistakes during and at the end of his first season in the Football League plus his close-season signings and problems from the kick-off of the new season, the same phrases were uttered on a regular basis.
    Of course, any changes have their risk factors, just as Ardley for TB was a risk, but when the situation becomes untenable for whatever reason, action must be taken. Ardley’s situation has become untenable for a number of reasons, most of which have been outlined in this particular forum and, inexplicably, there appear to be Fans and members of the Board that continue to ignore them. Without repeating them all again (and virtually all of them are mentioned above), the worst trait of all (IMO) is Ardley’s belief that he is virtually always right and the rest of us are wrong (and that includes the players). Add to that the rhetoric from him about Fans having no idea what they are talking about regarding tactics (and everything else for that matter) and we are where we are – in a blind alley without any apparent escape.
    Finally, despite our promotion, Ardley has gifted AFC Wimbledon with too many unwanted records surrounding lack of goals both in matches and minutes, poor runs without a win and a home record that is a joke and is treated as such by some Fans and, in some cases, by the Media. I really did hope that Neal would have become a success with us and, in the future, somewhere else, At present, this looks highly unlikely so, in the words of Sarah Brightman, “Time to Say Goodbye”.

  20. ‘Ardley’s situation has become untenable for a number of reasons, most of which have been outlined in this particular forum and, inexplicably, there appear to be Fans and members of the Board that continue to ignore them.’

    I remember the last time Neal’s situation became untenable according to a number of experts within our fan-base, it was just before Christmas 2 years ago. If you don’t believe me go and have a read through the comments section of ‘The dust settles’ posted in SW19 on 15th December 2015.

    Many fans and the board kept the faith.

    1. Fair enough and I am not one saying he has to go.

      But the question is why are there such similarities between then and now? Sure we had the same round pegs in square holes.

      See Brizie’s post at the top …. we’re afraid this time he will not get out of jail. I hope he does BUT there is a fundamental issue that needs to be sorted otherwise this football club is showing a different form of insanity to other clubs; where they change managers at the drop of the hat we don’t and allow ourselves to sleepwalk into difficulties.

      I was there in the WFC yo yo years and I honestly cannot remember being despondent at that time. We still had pluck and verve on the pitch as we went diwn … and then back up.

      Would/could we do that now?

      That’s what is missing – the verve/cgaracter whatever you want to call it – and I don’t think its part of NA’s character so you need the likes of Bayes etc. We need the spark of change and at present like a lot of people I do not see where it is going to come from.

      I just hope it lights a fire ….

    2. Bloody hell Stan, or should I say “voice of reason” 😉

      Point taken – but we weren’t in the basement, after 8 months of freefall and consistently scoring a goal….every couple of games: and then there were only a couple of issues to address to get the show back on the road…..

      1. Malman – luckily I couldn’t make the Rochdale game so I’m not as emotionally involved as some this week. I will be at Oxford though, if he continues to play players out of position in 4-3-3 and we score nil again my support might begin to subside.

  21. I have faith in Neal to turn Cody McDonald into a 6 foot 4 target man.

      1. And last post from me on this topic ….

        Tonight’s game against the Spurs kids really could go horribly wrong. If NA puts out a strong side and they fail to win? Or someone significant gets injured and out for a while? Its a no win situation for him and the team. The best we can hope for is a performance, a goal or two preferably by our front 2-3 to allow them to get that monkey of their backs. It may be a no hope no care kind of cup game but at present there is no free ride trips (like Blackburn was). We’ll see …..

  22. Why does our manager persiss in playing Lyle Taylor out on the wing and also Darius Charles up front. He’s a defender not a striker.

    Couldn’t believe it on Saturday when we had a corner in Rochdale’s half, the ball is doing ping pong in their 18 yard area and Lyle Taylor is on the half way line!!

  23. Well, for what it’s worth, we apparently scraped past Spurs U-13s 4-3 last night but considering neither of our 2 fit strikers managed to get on the scoresheet I’m not sure whether that’s likely to boost confidence or not. NA seems pleased though. Maybe we’ll be like Coventry last season & get to the final of this pointless competition whilst being relegated. Oh joy.

  24. I turn my back for 48 hours and it’s gone to probably the biggest amount of replies for some while….

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